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Protecting & 



Who is 

Does NOAA 

The National Marine 
Fisheries Service, or NOAA 
Fisheries, is part of the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) within 
the U.S. Department of Commerce. 
Founded in 1871 as the U.S. Commission of Fish and 
Fisheries, the agency was established to investigate and 
correct food-fish stock declines in New England waters. 

At that time, little was known about the 
biology' and populations of marine fish. But the Fish 
Commission and its successor agencies studied the 
fish populations and went on to assist the fishing 
industries in developing new seafood products, 
business markets and fishing opportunities for 
commercial and recreational fishermen nationwide. 

Since then, the agency has become responsible 
for most living marine resources and their habitat 
in U.S. waters. These resources, which belong to all 
U.S. citizens, include many species of fish, lobster, 
shrimp, crabs, clams, whales, dolphins, seals, and 
sea turtles, as well as the environment where these 
animals live, feed and breed. 

Federal waters start three miles from shore and 
extend out 200 miles into the ocean, although seaward 

boundaries of Texas, Puerto Rico and the 
Gulf coast of Florida extend nine miles 
from shore. In all, NOAA Fishehes man- 
ages 3-4 million square miles of ocean and coastal area. 

Much of the NOAA Fisheries stewardship work 
involves leading edge research in the biology and pop- 
ulations status of marine animals and assessing their 
habitat needs. The agency protects endangered and 
threatened marine species and their habitat, and con- 
ducts cooperative marine research with other federal 
agencies, state fisheries agencies, universities and other 

Additiojuilly, NOAA Fisheries measures the social 
and economic effects of fishing practices and fishery 
regulations. The agency also enforces fisheries laws and 
plays an active role in managing fish and marine 
mammals that swim between, waters of the United 
States and other countries. 

The NOAA Fisheries team consists of professionals 
— including oceanographers, biologists, social scientists, 
economists, mathematicians, manager's, administrative 
support personnel, technicians, and enforcement 
personnel — who work collaboratively with constituents 
and stake holders in programs to achieve sustainability 
of our nation's living marine resources. 

What is 
the Mission 
Fisheries? The noaa 

Fishe? ies st / 'ategic 

plan contains three goals: 

Rebuild and maintain 

sustainable fisheries 

Promote the recovery of 

protected species 

iJC Protect and maintain the health 
of coastal marine habitats 

More than one-fifth 
o\ the world's most 
productive marine 
waters lies within U.S 
territorial waters where in 
1996, commercial fishermen 
brought to port 9.6 billion 
pounds offish and shellfish, 
worth $3.5 billion. In addition, 



United States citizens to reap 
the greatest economic and 
social benefit, including a con- 

an estimated 17 million people tinuing supply of high-quality 

enjoy marine recreational 
fishing, landing almost 300 
million pounds offish each 
year. Many more fish are 
caught and released as part 
of a nationwide angler 
conservation program. 

These vast fishery resources 
and their essential habitats 
can be rapidly destroyed 
if harvest is not carefully 
controlled or their important 
habitat goes unprotected. 

seafood, and recreational 

Sound scientific research 
is the basis for sustainable 
fisheries. To help ensure 
productive future harvests, 
NOAA Fisheries scientists 
study the life history, stock 
size, and ecology of economi- 
cally important fishes, and the 
effects of climate and ocean 
processes on their populations. 
This information is used by 

But with proper management, fisheries managers to set 

healthy stocks can be main- 
tained, and diminished fish 
populations can be restored 
to bring greater wealth to the 
nation's coastal communities. 
Fisheries that are sustainable 
over the long term allow 

annual quotas, or the amount 
of fish that can be harvested 
each year. 




* The collapsed striped bass 
fishery off the Atlantic 
coast has recovered and 
widespread fishing is once 
again allowed. 

8 The Atlantic group of 
Spanish mackerel, heavily 
overfished, is recovering, 
permitting larger commercial 
and recreational harvests. 

* The agency's management 
of Alaska groundfish has 
kept the fishery the most 
productive and wealthiest 
in U.S. waters. 

* The tuna and swordfish 
stocks fished in Western 
Pacific waters under U.S. 
jurisdiction remain healthy 
and yield enormous 
returns to the nation. 

* The agency has made 
significant progress to 
restore many depleted 
fish stocks such as New 
England groundfish, Gulf 
of Mexico red snapper and 
Atlantic bluefin tuna. 


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Many marine 
by Federal law, 
such as whales, dolphins, sea 
turtles, and main stocks of 
salmon, are affected by fisheries 
and other human activities, 
as well as by environmental 
change. NOAA Fisheries seeks 
to reduce the impacts of these 
activities on protected species 
while ensuring the viability of 
valuable fisheries. In fact, NOAA 
Fisheries is a major force in 
protecting marine species 
around the globe. 


Protected PWk 


Through international 
cooperation, tuna caught 
in the eastern tropical 
Pacific Ocean is now 
"dolphin-safe," ensuring 
the health of dolphin stocks. 

The California gray whale, 
previously hunted to near 
extinction, has recovered 
to become the first 
marine mammal to be 
removed from the list of 
endangered species. 

Endangered Hawaiian monk 
seals and their essential habi- 
tat are now carefully guarded 
to ensure their survival. 

While many stocks are now 
under federal protection 
from threats of loss of habi- 
tat, overfishing, hatcheries, 
and hydropower, NMFS is 
working with federal, state, 
and private landowners to 
develop recovery plans for 
at risk salmon. 

Innovative technologies 
have been developed and 
continually improved to 
allow endangered sea 
turtles to escape safely 
from shrimping nets in 
the Southeast. 

Cooperative enforcement 
programs have been 
developed with native 
Americans so that tribes can 
protect endangered Pacific 
salmon within their lands. 

Endangered right whales 
of New England are 
protected by a vessel early 
warning system to prevent 
collisions and entangle- 
ments. Satellite tracking and 
aerial surveys are also used 
to monitor whales. 

Maintaining coastal 

Ecosystem habit f' 

T 4 1^1 such as 

Health estuaries 

and reefs, provide food 
and shelter for marine and 
anadromous fish and shellfish 
during important stages of 
their life cycles. NOAA Fisheries 
monitors threats to these 
fragile ecosystems by monitor- 
ing development, water and 
sediment contamination, 
water diversion for industrial 
agriculture, sedimentation, 
and dredging and filling 
activities. The agency is a 
major force in maintaining 
the health of marine ecosys- 
tems by leading research to 
restore and create fish habitat, 
reviewing coastal development 
and water projects that may 
alter or destroy habitat, and 
recommending measures 
to offset development and 
use impacts. 




• Critical coral reef habitat 
destroyed by ship ground- 
ings in the Florida Keys 
National Marine Sanctuary 
is being restored. 

• Federal and state 
cooperative efforts are 
being used to restore, 
protect, enhance and 
create Louisiana coastal 
wetlands that support 
some of the nation's 
most productive fish 
and wildlife resources. 

• The damage to productive 
reefs from harvesting these 
fragile systems for home 
aquariums has been 
stopped, and aquaculture 
for this resource has 
been encouraged. 

• Proposed siting for a large 
port and industry project 
in Alaska has been steered 
to areas where fisheries 
resources will not be 

• A federal, state and tribal 
cooperative program is 
being used to protect and 
recover sockeye salmon 
and chinook salmon habi- 
tat in the Columbia River 
Basin in the Northwest. 

• An interagency project 
will restore more than 600 
acres of coastal wetlands 
in southern California to 
become a nursery ground 
for juvenile halibut. 

How Rules & 

Are Made 

How are 

the Federal 
Living Marine 




fisheries law, the Magnuson 
Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act, created 
eight Regional Fishery 
Management Councils that 
\\( irk in partnership with 
NOAA Fisheries to manage 
marine fish stocks. The council 
membership is a balance of 
commercial and recreational 
fishermen, marine scientists, 
and state and federal fisheries 
managers, who combine their 
knowledge to prepare fishery 
management plans for marine 
fish stocks in their respective 
geographic areas. These plans 

can limit fishing effort, seasons, 
fishing gear, the number of 
fishermen allowed to fish for 
a certain species, and the total 
amount oi' fish that can be 
caught. The federal manage- 
ment process provides many 
opportunities for input from 
fishermen and others con- 
cerned with the use of these 

Similarly, NOAA Fisheries 
manages stocks of marine 
mammals, sea turtles, and 
protected salmon through 
a planning process that also 
features public comment, 
and advice from the regional 
fishery management councils. 

Fisheries Management Council identifies problem 
and proposes alternatives, 
Council holds public hearings 

and collects comments, 

Council then reviews, approves fishery management 
plan or amendment 
and submits it to 
Commerce Secretary ^Jj 

for formal review. '- m 

Commerce Department publishes proposed rule on plan 

or amendment and seeks 
further public comment. 

Upon further review, 

Commerce Secretary makes final decision 
on plan or amendment, 

NOAA Fisheries 
implements rules. 

its ocean 

Laws Does 

under many federal laws, in 
addition to the Magnuson- 
Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act. Most 
important are the Endangered 
Species Act. which protects 
species determined to be 
threatened or endangered; the 
Marine Mammal Protection 
Act, which regulates interac- 
tions with marine mammals; 
the Lacey Act. which prohibits 
fish or wildlife transactions 
and activities that violate 
state, federal, native American 
tribal, or foreign laws; the Fish 
and Wildlife Coordination 
Act, which authorizes NOAA 
Fisheries to collect fisheries 
data and to advise other 
agencies on environmental 
decisions which affect living 
marine resources; and the 
Federal Power Act, which 
allows NOAA Fisheries to 
minimize effects of dam 
operations on anadromous 
fish, such as prescribing fish 
passageways that bypass 
dams. Many other statutes, 
international conventions, 
and treaties also guide NOAA 
Fisheries activities. 

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Where Is 




headquarters is located 
in Silver Spring, Maryland, 

\\ nh fix e regional i offices 
and supporting science 
centers in the Northeast, 
Southeast (including the 
U.S. Caribbean islands). 
Southwest (including Hawaii 
and the U.S. Pacific islands), 
Northwest, and Alaska. 

Where Can 
You Get 


Publications: NOAA 
Fisheries publishes 

thousands of 
technical reports 

and announcements 
each year. Two important doc- 
uments are Our Living 
Oceans, a report on the 
status of U.S. living marine 
resources, and Fisheries of 
the United States, providing 
commercial and recreational 
fisheries landings, trade data, 
and other important fisheries 
statistics. Information on 
these and other publications 
may be obtained from NOAA 
Fisheries Headquarters or 
the NOAA Fisheries 
Internet homepage. 

NOAA Fisheries 

Internet Address: 

NOAA Fisheries 


— this homepage has links 
to many NOAA Fisheries 
offices natioiucide and 
other marine related sites. 

NOAA Fisheries Headquarters 
L315 East-West Highway 
Silver Spring. MD 20910-3226 

Alaska Region 

709 W. ^[U St, Room 453 

HO. Box 21668 

Juneau, AK 99802-1668 


Alaska Fisheries Science Center 
7600 Sand Point Way NE 
BINC15700, Bldg. 4 
Seattle, WA 98115-0070 

Northeast Region 
One Blackburn Drive 
Gloucester. MA 01930-2298 

Northeast Fisheries 
Science Center 

166 Water Street 

Woods Hole, MA 02543-1097 


Northwest Region 
7600 Sand Point Way NE 
BIN C15700, Bldg. 1 

Seattle. WA 98115-0070 

Northwest Fisheries 

Science Center 

2~2^ Montlake Blvd. East 

Seattle, WA 981 12-2097 

Southeast Region 

2^21 Executive Center Drive N. 
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 

Southeast Fisheries 
Science Center 

75 Virginia Beach Drive 
Miami, FL 33149-1003 

Southwest Region 

501 W Ocean Blvd., 

Suite 4200 

Long Beach, CA 90802-4213 


Southwest Fisheries 
Science Center 

8604 La Jolla Shores Drive, 

P.O. Box 271 

La Jolla, CA 92038-0271 




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